Bay Hill Key Fantasy Stats

Arnold Palmer Invitational

March 5th – 8th, 2019

Bay Hill Club & Lodge

Orlando, FL

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,454

Purse: $9.3 million

with $1,674,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Francesco Molinari

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

This is based on the most important stats for Bay Hill, based on data from last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2020. What we do is take their rank for each stat and then add up the four categories.
The scoring average of the field at Bay Hill last year was 72.38 as the course was ranked the 9th hardest course on the PGA Tour. In 2018 the course played to a scoring average of 72.02, almost a shot easier than it was in 2017 as it ranked T-15th hardest on the PGA Tour. In 2017 the scoring average was 72.89, almost a shot over par with it ranking 9th hardest on the PGA Tour. In 2016 it was 71.48, so the average score was half a shot under par, making Bay Hill the 28th hardest course to score on in 2016 (only 22 courses played easier). So why the big difference? In 2017, Thursday and Friday were below 70 and even with it getting to the high 70s over the weekend, each day saw winds over 10 mph with gusts of up to 25 mph on Sunday. Last year the temperatures were between the mid-80s each day and the winds were mild between Thursday through Saturday at 5 to 12 mph. On Sunday winds blew 12 to 20 mph but overall it was pretty mild compared to other years. This course needs the elements to make it a really hard course. It has rough and plenty of water, it’s sometimes hard to guide a shot into the right area. But wind makes this course a true brute and as we learned with the winds last week at Honda this time of year you do get windy days. Now the course has the reputation for playing tough, between 2011 and ’14 the course played over par including 2011 when it played an average of 73.20 and ranked 8th hardest.
This year I suspect that the course will play idiotically as it played last year, each day will be warm with perfect conditions with great temperatures, but dropping. On Thursday it will be 89 but drop to 75 on Friday to 67 on Saturday and back up to 72 on Sunday. The winds will blow out of the north, on Thursday will be a tough day at 20 mph with the other days blowing at 14 to 15 mph. It will be important on Wednesday to check the hour by hour wind reports for Thursday and Friday to make sure that a player gets the right pairing with the wind. So look for scores to be lower than previous years but not like the brutal conditions which produce high scores last week in Honda.

In looking at the stats for Bay Hill last year Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, Proximity to Hole and Rough Proximity are important. First, is Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, last year Bay Hill ranked 26th hardest in fairways hit, but 5th in greens hit for a T-5th place ranking in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. Last year’s winner Francesco Molinari was T-3rd in fairways hit and T-6th in greens hit and was 13th in Strokes Gained Tee-te-Green. 2018 winner Rory McIlroy was T-48th in fairways hit and T-45th in greens hit for an overall 7th ranking in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. In Proximity to hole in which Bay Hill was 3rd last year and 13th in 2018, Molinari was 18th last year and McIlroy was 1st. Now in Rough Proximity which Bay Hill ranked 2nd last year and 3rd in 2018, Molinari was 15th last year and McIlroy was 32nd in 2018. In our last critical category Putting inside Ten Feet, Bay Hill ranked 32nd in last year and 25th in 2018. Molinari was 4th in Strokes Gained Putting as he was 16th in Putting inside 10 feet making 60 of 65 putts. As for McIlory, he made his biggest gains in 2018 on the greens, he was 1st in Strokes Gained Putting as he was 2nd in Putting inside ten feet making 59 of 61 putts.

In looking at the stats for all the winners the one thing that stands out each year is that they either hit a lot of greens and don’t putt that great, or they are super in putting but don’t hit a lot of greens. Just look at this chart of all the winners from 1997 and you can see they either putt lights out and hit the ball subpar, or they hit the ball great and don’t do as well on the greens:

One thing about the greens, they are some of the best on the PGA Tour and with little undulations, lots of putts are made.
Last year Molinari was 4th in Strokes Gained Putting and 2nd in total Putting. He was 4th in total putts made at 379 feet, 3 inches and in the 56 putts he had of seven feet or under he only missed one. In 2018 McIlroy was 1st in Strokes Gained Putting and 1st in total putting. He had 54 putts of seven feet and didn’t miss a single putt, the true key for him winning. The same with 2017 winner Marc Leishman, who was 2nd in Strokes Gained Putting and T-5th in Total Putting. He had 58 putts of seven feet and in and only missed one, the true key for him winning. The same thing with the 2016 champion Jason Day. He was 6th in Strokes Gained Putting and 7th in Total Putting. As for putts inside 7 feet, he had 60 and only missed one so you can see that you can not hit the ball that great but win, but it’s easier if you can hit the ball great.

But again, the weather is always the barometer for good play at Bay Hill

So here are our for categories for the most critical stats for players to do well this week at the Arnold Palmer:

*Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green: Stat is a good barometer on overall play from drives to hitting into the greens. For years Bay Hill is always in the top-15, in 2010 it was T-4th. Last year it ranked T-5th.

*Proximity to Hole: Average length that a player hits from the pin with shots from the fairway, last year it was 3rd with each shot ending up 40 feet, 1 inch from the hole.

*Rough Proximity: Average length that a player hits to the pin from out of the rough. Showing how hard the rough is at Bay Hill it was the hardest course to get close to the hole from the rough in 2016, players were only able to average 51 feet, 2 inches on each shot from the rough. Last year it ranked 2nd with the average ball ending up 54 feet, 9 inches from the hole so it’s important to drive it well and keep it out of the rough.

*Putting inside ten feet: No matter how good your game is, you have to make these putts in order to win. In 2016 Bay Hill ranked the hardest of the 37 courses ranked, while last year ranked 32nd (4th hardest) out of 35 courses so it’s a hard stat for players on this course.

104 of the 121 players from this year’s field with stats from this year:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

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